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I’ve had the great privilege to work at Mozilla for about 2.5 years now, and time after time there are some things which always stand out:

  • Distributed nature is our strength
  • Passionate people make great things happen
  • We are global, yet think, and do what’s right at the locale level
  • We are deliberate

People will tell you with no surprise, this is the kind of backbone and success of open and decentralized organizations. But I will tell you, unless you’ve experienced the possibilities in action, and worked with such a team to truly create, its hard to appreciate what this kind of dedication and commitment is all about.

A current example is Mozilla’s Open to Choice campaign, whereby scores of people are coming together from across Europe intent on informing and educating people about the importance of the Web browser, and why that informed choice matters. The campaign sets out to help tens of millions of Europeans who are currently experiencing the Microsoft Browser Choice screen, an initiative from Microsoft which gives Internet Explorer users the opportunity to choose their own Web browser. So far together Mozilla has –

Our campaign is on going, but at this stage I would like to call out some heartfelt thanks to the Mozilla teams, and our ever present wider community including: Members of the Mozilla Marketing community who have already done so much to share and spread browser choice in Europe. Our design community who helped create web site and campaign assets. And a special thanks goes to *all* the l10n teams who worked tirelessly, burning much midnight oil to get the campaign site live in 15 locales. Plus, to many friends and partners of Mozilla who are also making this campaign possible, a heartfelt thanks to you.

Patrick Finch also has a blog post thanking everyone who worked on the Browser Choice screen for Mozilla.

I’ve said this at least 50 times in the last few weeks, but I’ll say it again here – working on a project such Open to Choice, which has so much importance, to so many people, created by so many committed individuals — is a true inspiration. There’s no doubt in my mind that informing millions of people about the importance of browser, and Web choice is exactly the right thing to do. And that’s what we’ll keep doing!

Carnegie apparently said, “Take away my people, but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the factory floors……Take away my factories, but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory.” Taken fom Seth Godin’s post – Losing Andrew Carnegie

For me this is also a great quote for open source and hybrid organizations, where brilliant, distributed people make a difference – no matter the project or interest.

And as long as there’s great work to be done – folks will always build and achieve great things together.

There’s certainly plenty of great work to do at Mozilla, and great people to go with it!

Photo credit:The Library of Congress

In the tech space right now you can’t have missed the news about the EC and Microsoft’s landmark settlement, and the Browser Choice screen. Its a historic first step in placing choice directly in the hands of the user. But it is just that, a “first step”.

Creating choice, and advocating for it has been integral to the Mozilla mission since its inception (you will recall going back to a time when there wasn’t another solid browser choice to IE). But choice is nothing if you haven’t been able to learn about the options, and therefore ultimately make a decision that’s right for you.

Last week in association with YouGov in the UK, Mozilla commissioned a survey which concluded 77% of Britons did not know the Browser Choice screen was coming, and that they would soon be asked to choose their browser. So what’s the good of choice if (i) no-one knows there is one and (ii) what’s the right choice for them?

If you’re reading my blog via the Mozilla planet blog, it goes without saying that you understand the implications of the choices you make online, and I bet you’ve been bent on helping those around you understand this for many years. You’re tech savvy and web smart — but how does that lady in the next town from you learn more about why choice matters online? How will she learn why her browser is so important to her online experience, and how will she then make the right choice for herself when the times comes?

Its clear much, much more needs to be done to help citizens understand the online choices which are available, and their implications for the individual and the Web. Everyone should have the right to make an informed choice which is best for them.

I’m proud to be part of Mozilla, who has chosen a path to educate people about the Browser Choice Screen. We started our campaign with an Open Letter from John Lilly (Mozilla CEO) and Mitchell Baker (Mozilla Chair), calling for wider discussion around Web choice and in particular the Browser Choice screen.

I believe we all – as individual custodians of the Web, (and just darn nice people!) that it’s our obligation to make sure more people know how best to choose for themselves. In the case of the Browser Choice screen, it doesn’t matter to me which browser is chosen, or if a decision is made not to make a choice. But it is important to know how a choice of browser affects one’s experience online, and that its important a decision to based on a person’s individual needs, and belief.

What can you do?

  • If you’re a journalist – I urge you to write about the browser choice screen, and help your readers make an informed choice. Provide the facts and raise awareness, you have their ears.
  • If you are a blogger and Internet commentator, also please inform your fans and readers. Everything you can do to help people educate themselves, will ultimately better serve the Web.
  • If you’re an individual who has already made your browser choice,  please help educate someone in your school, office and family to make theirs.

opentochoice.org has been started by Mozilla as a place to learn and discuss online choice. Browser choice is simply the beginning, much more needs to happen to ensure Web users are fully in control of their online lives, and can make choices which best serve their needs. Join us there.

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I think most of you know its Mozilla Service Week this week. We’ve been featuring stories and opportunities on the Mozilla Service Week blog, and as you know here on my blog –I usually like to try to find ways that everyone can get involved in making the Web better, no matter how technically advanced you are! Everyone can help make a difference.

One way I’ve been getting involved this week is to help bookshare.org. Bookshare are a non-profit org who are committed to helping people with visual impairments, physical disabilities and/or learning disabilities by dramatically increasing the quantity and timely availability of books and newspapers in accessible formats.

What does that mean? Its means for example if you are blind, you want to be able to have access to books (and the latest bestseller books) just like everybody else. bookshare.org is helping people enjoy the beauty of reading.

They already make more than 50,000 books available to folks who need them in accessible formats for people of all ages and disabilites – who have different tastes.

People in the world love to read and those of us who read everyday take that completely for granted. One of the small ways you could help bookshare is by writing a review of your favourite book and sending it to them. We all want to have recommendations before we start reading a book, so please help by sharing your opinions with others.

Its easy to get involved, simply…

1. Visit http://bookshare.org/ and use the search field to check for the book you have in mind.

2. If its there, write a brief or detailed review (your choice!)

3. Email it to volunteer@bookshare.org – and they will upload it onto the site for you.

Its amazingly rewarding and so easy to do. Why not make a point of doing it every time you finish reading a book! 🙂

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For folks in the Mozilla community volunteering is a way of life. Its what drives them and what has created one of the most wildly used and translated pieces of software in the world…

… Today we kicked off Mozilla Service Week – which has brought a new element to what volunteering at Mozilla means. Over the past months we’ve been encourgaing people to step up and make a difference in their area by directly offering technology related help. That’s more than sitting behind a monitor and coding, and more than submitting a bug — its about meeting face to face, offering advice, and helping someone enjoy this really wonderful thing we call the Web.

As someone involved in Marketing and who is not a coder, web designer, and doesn’t have anything like the amazing skills most of you have — I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get involved and help make a difference. Well, I can tell you that it doesn’t matter what skill level you have — you can always help someone else have a better experience on the Web. Advocate why you love it, share how you use it, make sure people know why we need to protect it. There’s so much we can do.

Please go to mozillaservice.org, sign up and help us make the Web a better place this week, and for always.

Read more:

http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/2009/09/14/mozilla-service-week-is-here/

http://mozillaservice.org

Owl

There are some things in life you need to learn … such as learning to walk, to read and knowing that pie is ‘off’ in your fridge (though all of that is hopefully instinctive)

And there are also some things in life in worth learning well … such as speaking French, having patience, and making great brownies!

Then there are those things in life which by learning, you just know are going to make your life a whole lot better! Learning about Firefox is one of those, and for the last few weeks, we’ve been working on a new fun learning destination for Firefox – called the “School of Firefox”. We’ll soon be able to take you through lessons, tips and videos on all you need to know about using Firefox.

Its going to help new Firefox users get set up and familiar with Firefox features fast, and for those of us who think we already know the deal, we hope there’s lots more besides to learn about your fox!

We’ll be sharing more about the site in the next couple of weeks. So get your pencil’s pencils sharpened – a new fun way to learn Firefox is coming soon!

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Gerv, Pascal and I got together last night with some London Firefox and Mozilla fans to help celebrate the launch of Firefox 3.5 last Tuesday.

About 25 of us enjoyed a few beers and snacks, there were several familiar faces who joined us last year for the Firefox 3 launch. Gerv demoed some neat 3.5 new features – Location Aware Browsing, Open Video, Downloadable fonts and Performance. Pascal talked about the cool dev stuff which is going on at Mozilla Labs.

Some interesting people were there from:

Ubervue – A group of Romanian super smart guys who have built the next gen social media conversation tracker. They now have opened up their API for anyone to hack on. Check it out!

Open Rights Group – a campaigning organization aiming to raise awareness of digital rights and civil liberties issues.  They need your help and support in the UK!

Influence Crowd – Philip Sheldrake the guy behind this is one of the smartest and highest energy folks around in Social Media analytics – there’s nothing he doesn’t know! He’s working on some cool new stuff in social media and measuring true success and accountability:

Fun moments:
– We watched live on screen Firefox 3.5 downloads pass 16M – we are now at 17.5M – see where we are now here: http://downloadstats.mozilla.com/
– Gerv ran the original Firefox code on loop – apparently it takes 25 mins to cycle through and it was shown at the first release party. All pretty cool stuff.

T-shirt & Cause moment:
We actually had some t-shirts to share, and was delighted to see people donate. In a beer glass we raised 75 pounds (125 US$) for the Mozilla Foundation — helping to keep the openness of the Web. A big thank you to all who donated.

A great night was had by all. It was wonderful to join with people who deeply care about the future of the Web, and are so supportive of the Mozilla community and cause.

More pictures here — unfortunately they are a bit grainy, the light wasn’t so good.

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Over the past few months we’ve mentioned several times about our plans to launch a technology related volunteer week, and today we are very proudly unveiling mozillaservice.org

During the week of September 14-21 we are asking people all over the world to step up and make a difference in their local communities by using the beauty of the Web.

We want people to come forward and volunteer their time, to seek out opportunities to do good in their communities, and make a real difference to people’s live with technology.  We’re looking for people who want to share, give, engage, create, and collaborate by offering their time and talent to local public benefit organizations, non-profits and people who need their help —

i) you could be a coder, or do testing, localize, or you might know networks etc

ii) you know how to use the Web, and are Web savvy

Here are some ways you could help:

* Help a full time working Mum learn how to buy groceries online when her kids are sleeping
* Connect with your local community centre and offer to build a website, or a calender of events
* Reach out to a local library and offer to write a tutorial on how to use the Web
* Design a twitter background image for an NGO
* Go to your local school and volunteer to help set up wi-fi network
* Refurbish an old laptop and donate it to a senior citizens retirement home
* Call a family meeting and explain to everyone why the Web is important
* …. the lists are really endless.

Everyone should have the opportunity to know how to use the Internet, have easy access to it, and have a good experience when they’re online. As you know, Mozilla as a public benefit organization has a firm mission to make the Web better for everybody. In fact, the Mozilla community already has an incredible track record of doing amazing things. So we know, that however big all small people’s action are — they will make a serious difference.

We’ve so far launched mozillaservice.org in English, however, over the coming weeks with the help of the Mozilla community, Mozilla Service Week will be available in many languages and with additional partners.

So what should you do next?

You can learn more on how to get involved by either volunteering or listing your, or your organization’s needs. You can also already pledge how many hours of support you would like to volunteer.

Giving and creating are so much of open source life, we are very proud to bring those skills, the energy, and the caring nature of people into the lives of as many people as possible.

Please get involved with Mozilla Service Week – Everyone can help build a better internet.

Go to mozillaservice.org

Add Mozilla Service Week Twitter

Tag anything related – mozservice09

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Credits:
Mozilla Service Week so far has been made possible by scores of people – Mary Colvig, Austin King, Stephen Donner, Krupa Raj, Jeremy Orem, and Peter Deitz. There are many, many more people Austin has mentioned on his blog as well.

NB: We are building Mozilla Service Week out in the open with the help of many volunteers – there will be many more people to thank over the coming weeks.

Picture 1a few weeks ago my colleague Mary gave a short announcement about Mozilla’s plans to organize a Technology Volunteer Week. This wasn’t about volunteering for the Mozilla Project, in terms of coding or localizing  Mozilla projects – but about encouraging folks out there to do technology acts of real life public good.

The Mozilla Service Week – will bring together the Mozilla community, and many others who deeply care about technology to make a real difference in their community with the help of the Web.  This could be something as small as helping your grandma get online, (which is actually, I’m sure a very big deal for you, your grandma and your family!), to organizing a group effort to collect used hardware for your local community centre.

Every action will help, and make a difference to someone’s world.

Since we first told you about Mozilla Service Week, we’ve made great progress. 17 different Mozilla communities around the world have come forward to help us build Mozilla Service Week in their local language over the coming weeks (please let me know if you would also like to help). And, we nearly have the English site ready to go.  Just a few more tweaks, and then we’ll be ready to share this with you. The week of service itself will now take place in September, but there’s plenty to do together before then to make sure this is a brilliant volunteering week.

We’ll soon have more news for you very soon… please stay tuned!

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Key to the open door

Seth Godin (of which you know I’m a fan of from time to time) blogged yesterday about how the term “open source” is being over-used. In fact it was the buzz word of 2008, and seems to be continuing to right into 2009. Its used with regard to anything and everything, and can be confusing to say the least… and both frustrating and enlightening if you actually work in open source. 😉 Seth & Michal Migurski produced a list of the most common ‘open’ terms to try and set folks on the straight and narrow – its worth taking a look.

In some respects its delightful to see the term open source be used in so many ways… we have entered a new age where we see more companies, and organizations being more transparent, and working in the open to gain customer feedback. We have a cacophony of user shared experiences, photos, videos, all open for us to dually consume and add to. There are more opportunities to get involved with your favorite *whatever it might be*, information (or your identity) can be passed from one place to another often seamlessly.

So – its not stretch to say, we are living in the most open environment we have ever seen (unfortunately, I am only able to refer to the developed world here). We have come along way!

But… its important not to forget, whilst we make these huge advances forward in being open, there is much more work to be done, and still much more work to maintain these levels of openness. Terms are one thing, but making sure open, stays open is quite another. And its easy to take this for granted, especially when it comes to the Web.

Open means different things to different people, and Seth’s list surely demonstrates this in today’s world (also see a bunch of dictionary terms below**). But one thing is certain, what ever open means to you – you will want to preserve it!


**The dictionary entry for the term ‘open’ (taken from the

1 allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked up

2 [ attrib. ] exposed to the air or to view; not covered

3 [ predic. ] (of a store, place of entertainment, etc.) officially admitting customers or visitors; available for business

4 (of a person) frank and communicative; not given to deception or concealment

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